With wildfires extinguished, Israeli forces arrest over 20 | News | DW | 27.11.2016
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With wildfires extinguished, Israeli forces arrest over 20

Security officials have taken over two dozen people into custody after wildfires raged across Israel and West Bank settlements. Israeli PM Netanyahu thanked Palestinian President Abbas for his assistance.

More than 23 people were arrested on suspicion of lighting fires that blazed in Israeli territories earlier this week, officials said on Sunday. 

"There are no active sites left...Since last night, it's pretty calm, we have no new activity," fire and rescue spokesman Yoram Levy told AFP news agency.

The fires, which began on Tuesday, were extinguished with the help of firefighting planes from Israel, Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain and Canada. Palestinians also joined rescue efforts with their eight vehicles and 40 fire personnel. Fires that had affected the Palestinian areas were also out by Saturday, Ramallah-based organization Civil Defense told reporters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Palestinian President Abbas for the gesture. "Netanyahu also appreciates the fact that Jews and Arabs have taken victims of the fire to their homes," a statement by the prime minister's office said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that 17 of the 110 wildfires were determined to be arson. On a trip to Halamish in the West Bank, he said Israel could respond by building more settlements. 

However, the country's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told "Times of Israel" newspaper that the blazes were not an "arson intifada." Netanyahu also did not name any group, saying "terror" was to blame for the fires.

Over 120 people have been injured and hundreds of homes damaged in Israel's Arab and Jewish areas since the fire broke out on Tuesday. More than 1,800 apartments were destroyed in the northern city of Haifa and more than 500 could no longer be used, Israeli radio said Sunday.

mg/sms (AP, dpa)


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